Let me set the stage...
We brought home our very first brand new dining table in February last winter. It was gorgeous. I wanted a large table that would seat 10 people for when we entertain guests or have family home for a visit. Cherish helped me pick it out while shopping together in Virginia, MN when I was down to the states in January. The rich hues of the red mohogany stain in the oak wood matched our floor perfectly. The leaf in the middle is a butterfly leaf that neatly folds under the table when not needed.
The chairs are very comfortable with just the right support for your back. I truly liked EVERYTHING about this table.... except for one little thing. There were grooves like a frame around the main portion of the table as well as the butterfly leaf. They weren't deep grooves, but big enough so that when you go to wipe the table, crumbs would most surely slip into them.
I wondered if I should even consider purchasing the table because of those grooves. Who would design an eating table with little troughs to catch food crumbs? As far as I could see, it was the only flaw of the table. Yet, I decided I should look around to see what other choices there might be since this was just the first store I had checked. We only had about an hour to shop before leaving for Ely, so we had to hurry.
After checking two other stores in the city and not finding anything to my liking or in my price range, we returned to the first store and this table. It was a good deal for a beautiful table, so I took it, figuring I could fix the problem of the grooves.
When I got it home, John and Joanna expressed their approval of my purchase, except John too figured the grooves would be a problem. What could I do to fix it? I decided polyurethane would do the trick. I bought some clear satin poly at the hardware store and went to work. Two coats later and the grooves were just as deep as before. Where did the polyurethane go? It certainly did not fill up the grooves as I had hoped.
Determined to get the job done, I took a foam brush and went around all the grooves, dripping polyurethane only there to build up to the level of the table. It took eight coats. Now I had ridges over the grooves well over the level of the table. It seemed the only solution would be to sand them level with the rest of the table. After two hours of sanding one little spot and accidentally digging into the original finish of the table, urethane dust flying everywhere, I stopped and looked in despair at the mess I had made. What was I going to do? I felt horrible for ruining a brand new table. But there was no going back. I was in over my head and I knew it. I fervently prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to help me, show me what to do and He did.
The idea that came to me was to use a knife and try to cut down the ridge I'd made over the grooves so there'd be less to sand. I took a fairly long knife and carefully, but firmly pressed the edge along the top of the table. All of a sudden the knife was cleanly removing all of the piled up layer of polyurethane right down to the original level with the groove filled to level with the table. It was actually fun to go around the table cutting away the poly. In a few spots the knife nicked gouges in the original stain. Ooops.
After I finished removing the layers of poly over the grooves, I realized I had another problem. Over the grooves, I was down to the original layer, but everywhere else on the table was the two coats of poly I had put on at first. Now what to do? I took the knife and carefully and slowly began scraping off the two layers of poly on the rest of the table. It was like peeling a sunburn. The layers came off in narrow one half inch long strips. As you can imagine, I accidentally nicked the original stain in many places and after weeks of scraping, my new table looked like a scratch and dent mess. People that visited me during this time thought I was absolutely crazy for doing such a thing. But we are practical people and this table had to provide us with a smooth cleaning surface for use.
The first picture below is during this peeling process, but it was not at the worst.
Even though I now had the grooves filled in with polyurethane and I had removed all the other poly so that it was at the original stain level, there were lots of nicks and scratches and the poly in the grooves looked white instead of black as they were at the beginning. So, I took a ruler and a black felt pen and went over every groove with the marker till they all looked black again. I found a can of red mohagany stain in a storage closet and went over the whole table to help conceal all the scratches and gouges. Then I put about six layers of poly over the whole table. The outcome was amazing. People who saw the mess before couldn't believe it was the same table. I was extremely grateful to the Lord for helping me complete the project successfully. Whew, I'm glad that is over!
The second picture below shows the finished project.